21 August 2011

Bout Recap: Hellions vs Bruisers

All of this sticky summer weather has left us more inclined to stretch out on the porch with a glass of lemonade than boot up the hot computers and write or process pics, so we're behind by three bout recaps and at least three bouts worth of pictures. Now that the temperatures are falling back into a more comfortable range, though, we're cuddling our laptops for warmth, so we'll be caught up in no time.

To that end, let us tell you about our trip to Schenectady a few weeks ago to see the Hellions of Troy host Garden State's Brick City Bruisers. We've liked the Hellions for a while (Flocci's very first bout was the Hellions vs. the Green Mountain Derby Dames), but hadn't seen them on their new home turf, which turned out to be a compact Rollarama rink in the 'burbs.

As venues go, it seems more appropriate for a practice space than a bout space – seating is limited to maybe a hundred chairs on the track and some standing room behind the team benches, the lighting is on the moody side, and a moderate line at the snack bar begins to block the merch tables. On the positive side, because it's a rink designed to pump disco tracks to happy skaters, the sound system is pretty groovy. We'd love to see the Hellions upgrade to a venue designed for sports events, but they did the best they could with what was available.

Scanning the program while the skaters were warming up, we decided that, in addition to picking MVPs for each bout, we're also going to pick our favorite derby names. Our choice for this bout was unanimous: the ref Crimes New Roman (from the NJ Hellrazors), whose number is 12pt. We love us some font geekery.

Johnny, being a vintage firearms aficionado, was tickled to hear the Hellions reciting a modified version of the Rifleman's Creed, paying tribute to their skates before the bout. It was also heartwarming to hear the announcement that the bout would be skated in honor of Assault City's Raging Ruby, who passed away on August 3rd.

On with the bout! After a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to decide which ref would get which jammer, the jam was on. We've been seeing a couple of teams repeatedly use a tactic that we find as frustrating as a congressional fillibuster. Sadly, it came out a lot in this bout: taking a knee to create a no-pack situation at the beginning of a jam. In theory, this gives a jammer with a powerjam the opportunity to get through the pack and be lead jammer without having to deal with blockers, since if there's no pack, anyone who tries to block the jammer gets a penalty for blocking outside the pack. In reality, the pack usually re-forms before the jammer gets to it, and sometimes teams use it when both jammers are on the line, and it just generally hurts our brains to see it.

However, it does, occasionally, work the way it's supposed to. At the whistle, the Hellions took a knee, the refs called no pack, the jammer whooshed through like a deadline, and went on to score 15 points before the end of the jam. Despite that success, we'd still like to see teams use this technique less. In fact, Johnny's working on a rant about all sorts of things we'd like to see less of in derby bouts, and that one's near the top of his list. At the top is the slow start, where one skater takes foreeeeeeeever to get across the line, holding up the jam – sadly, we saw a lot of that in the second half of this bout, too.

On the whole, though, this was a pretty good bout. The Hellions took a thirty-five-point lead in the first half and increased it to over fifty points by the end of the game, using some great blocking skills to keep the Bruisers' jammers stuck in the pack long enough to be lapped in several jams. The Hellions' Kitty Porn rocked the jammer star again and again, finding holes in the pack that even we eagle-eyed fans couldn't see, making her our MVP of the bout. The final score was 154-98 (we think – there were some issues with the time- and score-keepers' control over their software), and both teams skated well.

And if you catch a Hellions home bout, stop at the Redwood Diner afterwards (close enough to walk to) and try the veggie lasagna or a burger – good stuff!

Next up, a recap of the Utica All Stars vs the Green Mountain Derby Dames!